The Colby College Museum of Art recently received a 1968 Joan Mitchell painting, Chamrousse—the best example of abstract expressionism in Maine, according to museum director Sharon Corwin—while the Portland Museum of Art purchased a Robert Indiana sculpture mostly with funds from an anonymous donor. These acquisitions, both possible only with the help of benefactors, highlight the new reality that soaring art prices make it difficult for museums to purchase significant works or compete at auction as they once did.
Museums now build relationships with generous artists, collectors, and donors to expand their collections. In Colby’s case, benefactors Paula and Peter Lunder ’56 purchased the Mitchell painting for the museum. The Lunders have long taken a personal interest in Maine and the College, providing gifts that have shaped the Colby museum for years, including the Lunder Collection of more than 500 pieces of mostly American art.